OMG, you guys, this is it…my final regular show review before FRINGE! I’m a little nervous about it…this one has to be the BOMB, you know what I’m saying? All the big seasons are done, or in the process of being done at least, and that’s a little bit sad and exciting at the same time. Over at the Ottawa Little Theatre, they’re just putting the finishing touches on their 101st season, and holy blue freakin’ hannah, 101 seasons! Say what you will about Ottawa, but our community theatre is longer lasting than YOUR community theatre. So there.
I arrived for the final show of the season to find theatre rockstar Laura Hall (fresh off a killer run of MAURITIUS) selling some sweet 50-50 tickets in the lobby…I opted to support the arts via the bar, myself, but to each their own. The show for the evening was Derek Benfield’s Brit-Farce TOUCH & GO, setting up nicely on a sweet split-set from designer Tom Pidgeon. OLT knows them some farce, and while there wasn’t quite as much door-slamming as you might be craving in this one, there were still lotsa entrances, exits, double entendres and mistaken identities to placate even the toughest of devotees. Also, blessedly, lots and lots of laughs.
Set in the swinging sixties, our tale follows neighbours George (Jarrod Chambers) and Brian (Josh Sparks) in what starts out immediately as a convoluted web of merry lies. With George’s wife Jessica (Venetia Lawless) out of town on business, George has agreed to battle off for some darts on a Wednesday so George can use his flat to have it off with his lover Wendy (Kelly Fuoco). Unbeknownst to the splendidly mustachioed Brian, however, George is in reality off at Brian’s house, getting down with HIS wife Hilary (Jane Morris). Everything seems to be going along in splendid adulterous bliss…until, of course, Jessica arrives home a day early and the shenanigans begin proper.
I won’t get too much into the twists and turns of the rapid-fire plot, but will say that this was a really, really fun show that just breezed by all too quickly. Another solid cast assembled by Geoff Gruson, easily one of the most reliable of OLT’s arsenal of directors. Kelly Fuoco was admirably saucy, sexy and brassy as Wendy, the ‘other woman’. She plays especially well with Josh Sparks, who shines as clueless Brian, constantly struggling to stay on top of things in his goofy red tracksuit. Jarrod Chambers is wonderfully stuffy as fastidious George, and the always terrific Jane Morris is a perfect goddamn delight as Hilary, alternating between vivacious and violent over the course of the story. That leaves Venetia Lawless, throwing a wrench into the whole works and having a ball with it as the clearly too-smart-for-this-play Jessica…tho even she isn’t above getting hoodwinked once or twice.
TOUCH & GO was just a heckuva lot of fun, fast paced, well acted, and I even loved the soundtrack. A solid end to the 101st season (okay, I missed most of it, but I’m saying it anyways), and well worth a visit. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid (and Winston)